Archie Miller

No. 11 Dayton upsets No. 3 Syracuse

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Dyshawn Pierre led No. 11 seed Dayton with 14 points and Tyler Ennis missed a pair of go-ahead jumpers in the final 20 seconds as the Flyers upset No. 3 Syracuse in the Round of 32, 55-53.

The win sends the Flyers to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. They’ll play the winner of tomorrow afternoon’s game between No. 2 Kansas and No. 10 Stanford.

“Every time you advance it feels a little better,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller told TBS after the game. In the opening round, he beat his former boss, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. “If you’re going to beat Syracuse in here you need a little bit of luck, and fortunately the last one didn’t go in.”

The Flyers are now the lone representative of the Atlantic 10, a conference that had six teams dance, remaining in the tournament.

The win may be bittersweet for Dayton fans, however. Regardless of what happens the rest of this tournament, Miller may not be in Dayton all that much longer. His coaching pedigree is as good as any young coach in the country, and he’s the younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, and he’s now taken the Flyers from a team that was expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the A-10 to the second weekend of the Big Dance.

That’s impressive enough to get a phone call from Marquette, Wake Forest, Boston College or one of the other high major jobs that opened up this month. At the very least, Miller just earned himself a hefty raise.

The first 25 minutes of this game were about as difficult to watch as NCAA tournament basketball gets, as Dayton couldn’t figure out Syracuse’s defense and Syracuse, frankly, couldn’t figure out their own offense. The Flyers began to get better ball movement, and thus better shots, against Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone midway through the second half, right around the same time that Ennis finally figured out that he was going to have to start being people off the dribble if the Orange were going to score.

What was confusing, however, was the fact that Ennis opted not to try and drive on the final two possessions. He was not only getting into the paint at will late in the second half, he was starting to get the kind of friendly whistle that you expect superstars to get. And while he’ll likely be criticized for missing those jumpers, it’s important to remember that the Orange would not have been in a position to win the game had it not been for Ennis.

It was a microcosm of the Syracuse season.

For the last three months, the Orange had made an unfortunate habit out of playing down to their opponent, struggling to shoot from the perimeter and relying on Ennis to bail them out down the stretch.

Ennis just ran out of big buckets.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of the action on the fringe of the NCAA tournament

Fred VanVleet
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.